Roscrea Credit Union was delighted with the recent news that one of it’s current youth group member’s and two of it’s former youth group members were chosen to participate in the 2009 “Solidarity Express” program which will take place in Poland over the next week.
Christine McAuliffe, Niamh King and Stephen Cullen will depart for Poland on August 26th and all are extremely grateful to Mr Noel Connan TD who has helped facilitate this wonderful opportunity.
Brendan Wright, (Roscrea Credit Union) Mayor Denis Ryan, Noel Coonan TD, Tracy Hynes, (Roscrea Credit Union) Brian King (Roscrea Credit Union) and Michael Hynes.(Roscrea Train Station)
Front Row L/R
Christine McAuliffe, Stephen Cullen and Niamh King
In Poland, the Roscrea participants will be joined by up to two hundred more young people from around the world between the ages of 18 and 25. Together they will spend a week travelling across Poland in a specially commissioned train. On their journey they will visit places that are popular symbols of Poland’s struggle with totalitarian regimes notably fascism pre World War II and communism that enslaved the country throughout the cold war period. They will visit places such as the Auschwitz-Birkenau and Cracow Nazi concentration camps, the Warsaw Uprising Museum, Westerplatte and the “Roads to Freedom” exhibition.
As part of the extraordinary journey on board the “Solidarity Express” the participants will also get to visit cities like Warsaw, Kraków, and Gdańsk. As part of the project, lectures and workshops will be organised, as well as meetings with people who have witnessed the historic events of Poland’s past. The participants of the project will also take part in the commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II that will be organised in Gdańsk and will be one of the most important events in Poland this year. The trip will also involve meeting with key figures in Poland’s quest for freedom, most notably Lech Wałęsa the former trade union and human rights activist that co-founded Solidarity (Solidarność), the Soviet bloc's first independent trade union. Walesa won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, and served as the first President of Poland from 1990 to 1995. Meeting Lech Walesa will certainly be a most memorable opportunity for all the participants on the “Solidarity Express”. Walesa is an icon of the 20th century and will always be credited as one of the men that stood up to the Kremlin, brought communism to an end in Poland and as a result set about a chain reaction that eventually brought about the end of the cold war and the falling of the iron curtain.
Mr Noel Coonan TD who facilitated the trip courtesy of his involvement with the Polish/Irish Parliamentary Group of which he is currently Chairman, said that the adjudicators who vetted the applications were extremely impressed with the three Roscrea applicants. Noel Coonan said that all three were very much involved in their local communities and were deserving of this tremendous opportunity.
Mr Brian King Co-ordinator of the Roscrea Credit Union Youth Group said that while each of the participant’s applied for a place on the “Solidarity Express” independently of one another, it was a great testament to the strength of the “Youth Group” and the skills that are learned from participating in the group, that three were selected from the group to go to Poland. He went on to say that such was the strength of the Roscrea Credit Union Youth Group that any of the twenty two young people that have participated over the past four years would be worthy participants for the “Solidarity Express” program.
Brendan Wright, Niamh King, Stephen Cullen, Mayor Denis Ryan, Christine McAuliffe, Noel Coonan TD, Tracy Hynes and Brian King
Niamh King is currently studying Business Studies at Limerick University. Niamh was Secretary of the first Roscrea Credit Union Youth Group and as a result became very active in the local community through various initiatives such as fundraising, event organsing and creating debate amongst the youth demographic on various issues that were topical at the time. Niamh also served as treasurer of the group and was meticulous in balancing accounts and helping to keep all Youth Group events within budget. Niamh was also a leading member of the Colaiste Phobal Cáirdre Group, makes regular visits to the residents of St Anne’s and in 2008 Niamh was awarded the Colaiste Phobal “Business Student Of the Year” in recognition of her dedication to the subject and her work in the local community with Roscrea Credit Union. Niamh believes that Poland’s many political and social struggles of the past are still relevant in societies all over the world today. By participating in the “Solidarity Express”, Niamh hopes to play a part however big or small in helping to encourage and promote peace and freedom for all people, from all nations around the world.
Christine McAuliffe will commence her studies in Pharmacy at UCC this September. For those with an interest in traditional music and Irish culture, Christine who is an accomplished musician needs no introduction as she has been at the forefront of many Fleadh competitions over the years, representing Tipperary at both provincial and national level picking up lots of honours along the way. Christine was a very active member of the Roscrea Credit Union Youth Group. In her own words she says that she “joined the group to help make a difference in the community and together with her fellow members this goal was certainly achieved”. Christine said that the Credit Union Youth Group gave her invaluable experience and life skills such as organising, delegating, working on a team and taking responsibility for decisions made. Christine was also a past member of Comhairle Na Nóga and represented her school and North Tipperary in Dáil Na N-óg. Christine is really looking forward to her trip to Poland and mixing with other young people from around the world and getting an understanding for their culture and beliefs. Christine is particularly interested in learning about Poland’s struggle for democracy and feels that the trip will be a very symbolic and meaningful journey and certainly a week that she will never forget.
Stephen Cullen is a current member of the Roscrea Credit Union Youth Group. With his colleagues on the group he has already engaged in numerous projects to date and is currently investigating a sponsored sky dive for charity. Stephen is very much involved in the local community and gives a lot of his time as a Volunteer in Mrs. Quins Charity Shop. Stephen is also very much involved with extra curricular activities at Colaiste Phobal and has received distinctions in “SafeFood for Life” and “Occupational First Aid” courses. Stephen is also part of the Roscrea Credit Union Sub Office team at Colaiste Phobal and he plays an instrumental role in encouraging young people to save and use their local Credit Union. One of the Stephen’s proudest achievements to date was when he was awarded the Gaisce Presidents Award, bronze prize, last year. Stephen is currently participating in the Gaisce Presidents Award, silver Prize and we look forward to hearing about his success with this award in the near future. Like Niamh and Christine, Stephen feels that the trip to Poland and all it involves will be a truly eye opening experience. Stephen will sit the Leaving Cert examination in the Summer of 2010 and believes the trip will be an invaluable experience as he prepares for the biggest examination in his life to date.
A special departure ceremony was held at Roscrea train station recently to honour the three participants before they set of to Poland. Noel Coonan TD once again praised the participants and wished them every success on the trip. Brian King made a presentation to each of the participants and said he was very proud to have three Roscrea Credit Union Youth Group members making the trip to Poland on what will be a very challenging and engaging journey that will offer plenty of memories for years to come.
In September Roscrea Credit Union will once again begin it’s yearly recruitment of looking for additional “Youth Group” members. If you would like to be part of the group or have any ideas for the Youth Group going forward, feel free to contact Brian King or any existing Youth Group member. You can keep up to date with all the latest “Youth Group” news, by going online and checking out our BEBO and Facebook profiles.